There will be dance-offs and music, there will be goodwill and fun, but when the Vodacom Bulls take on the MTN Lions in Soweto on Saturday, there will also be some serious rugby issues answered.
The 15h00 kick-off at Orlando Stadium will be a season opener for the Vodacom Bulls, who are incidentally hosting this Gauteng Cup match, and they will obviously have different needs from the outcome of this match.
The Lions has played twice already this season, beating Russia and the Toyota Cheetahs along the way and will bring some momentum into this match no doubt.
Both coaches this week indicated a greater need for rotation in 2013 and where Lions coach Johann Ackermann still have to settle in a number of squad selections, Bulls coach Frans Ludeke has less issues there.
The Bulls coach this week admitted that he did not use the rotational policy to his advantage in last year’s revamped season, the longest in the competition’s history.
The 2013 competition is even longer due to an earlier start for the Australian franchises, so it is no wonder Ludeke indicated that rotation would be an important selection tool in 2013.
“We have to manage little niggles here and there better and with the depth of the squad we have, is something we can manage,” Ludeke said.
It is this depth that will be on display today when Deon Stegmann leads the youngish looking side on the field.
At least ten certainties for a starting spot against the DHL Stormers in three weeks are not here, but this outing will provide ample opportunity for some fringe players.
The likes of Stegmann and Jano Vermaak in turn – established veterans with 50+ caps to their credit, need to show why they should be starting against the Capetonians.
A lot of eyes will be on Lions loan player Lionel Mapoe. He could solve the cumbersome number 13 spot for the Bulls and with Jan Serfontein on his inside, should have enough space to operate in.
In all, an interesting afternoon of rugby where the questions answered will be as important as the result.
The teams are:
Vodacom Bulls: 15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Sampie Mastriet, 10 Tiaan Schoeman, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jean Cook, 6 Deon Stegmann (captain), 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Frik Kirsten, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Juan Schoeman. Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Hencus van Wyk, 18 Wiaan Liebenberg, 19 Cornell Hess, 20 Ruan Snyman, 21 Handré Pollard, 22 Ulrich Beyers, 23 Jacques du Plessis
Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Deon Helberg, 13 Stokkies Hanekom, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Francois du Toit, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg (captain). Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 JJ Breet, 19 Warwick Tecklenberg, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 Lionel Cronje, 22 Ruhan Nel.
Referee: Sandile Mayende